Guillermo Lasso, candidate of the right-wing CREO party, was elected president of Ecuador in his third attempt, competing against the same candidate since 2012, in contention. This time he did not compete with Rafael Correa, former president from 2007 to 2017, but with one of his students, Andrés Arauz.
This second round was a referendum between racism and anti-racism of several tendencies which, on this occasion, closed ranks to leave the current which had hegemony over the last 14 years and which, despite the loss of elections, is the second by force in the Assembly with 46 legislators out of a total of 137.
During the vote, the heightened polarization played the game on different grounds. The first happened constantly on social networks, where the messages tried to capture the vote of the undecided and turn the percentage in favor of the void. Fifty percent of the population did not vote for either of the two finalists in the first round. The scramble with Arauz at the head follows the same roadmap since 2007 against the banks, as Lasso is the largest shareholder of one of Ecuador’s largest banks. In other words, he couldn’t reinvent himself and Correa also didn’t have a moratorium as he continued to play as campaign manager for Belgium.
Guillermo Lasso bet on a message that revealed the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and the failure of the economic model of countries that have opted for socialism in the 21st century, in addition to facing corrismo, reminding people of the accusations of corruption made against him. Lasso did not completely reinvent himself, however, he added to his campaign a message that resonated with the majority of the population: the idea of ”reunion” in terms of dialogue, respect, national unity and peace. opportunity for segments of the population living in poverty and extreme poverty. He knew how to listen to the fatigue caused by polarization.
The second game was played in the media because they remain the most reliable and the most in phase, despite the emergence of digital initiatives and networks. The press has closed ranks against the race, due to the style of confrontation Correa has ushered in since his first term against journalists who have started investigating corruption in his government. Lasso took advantage of this space, besides having more know-how than the young candidate Arauz, 35, who had been Minister of Correa but always kept a low profile and was never catapulted as the legitimate successor of the ex-president.
The third match was played on the territory, despite the mobilization limits imposed by the pandemic. The two candidates competed for the votes in each province, but Lasso’s agenda was broader, more inclusive and better organized. In this third campaign, the right-wing candidate added visits to different segments of the population, especially those living in poverty, in rural and peasant areas. If several of these sectors did not vote for him in the first round, it was important that his candidates express their support, as in the case of the Social Democrat Xavier Hervas.
The Correismo tried to capture the vote of young people and to reproduce in its former militants the nostalgia for the first years of the Citizen Revolution, in which there was an economic windfall that had allowed them to move forward in terms of social and economic rights ( Buen Vivir), but this message was enough. More weight was given to the clash figure Rafael Correa who never left the zero-sum game against his rivals. People are already living with the fear of the pandemic and, therefore, they rejected the idea of re-issuing another fear: polarization. This explains why Lasso’s reunion message resonated better.
In his first speech as president-elect, former banker Guillermo Lasso underlined the idea of a national unity project with particular emphasis on the promotion of the rights of women, the GLBTI population, children and teenagers. He also emphasized the active listening he will undertake with those who join this goal. Its main challenge is universal vaccination, a task that will be led by its vice-president, Alfredo Borrero, who is a doctor by profession. On the other hand, Andrés Arauz acknowledged the defeat and highlighted the continued construction of a country of unity, a message that arrived late in his campaign and had no impact on the electorate.
The Lasso receives a country in multidimensional crisis: 7 out of 10 young people are unemployed, nearly 50% of the population lives on two dollars a day and about 600,000 people were unemployed during the pandemic according to the National Institute of Statistics and census (INEC). On the other hand, Ecuador is the country with the highest rate of child malnutrition in the region and the second highest number of pregnant girls and adolescents. The main problems are unemployment, the health crisis and insecurity. Politically, the executive must negotiate with a fragmented and multi-party assembly. The path has only just begun, but with a significant margin of voice. At the end of this article, Lasso got 52.41% and Andrés Arauz, 47.59%.
The election results revalidate the regional and historical divide between the regions of Costa and Serra do Equador. In the first, the running candidate won as he did during his 14 years, but with minimal percentages, while in the second, Lasso triumphed with a big difference and this gave him access to the presidency. This emphasizes the idea that there is national leadership and that the challenge will be to build unity.
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